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This study determined how sociocultural messages to change one's body are perceived by adolescents from different cultural groups. In total, 4904 adolescents, including Australian, Chilean, Chinese, Indo-Fijian, Indigenous Fijian, Greek, Malaysian, Chinese Malaysian, Tongans in New Zealand, and Tongans in Tonga, were surveyed about messages from family, peers, and the media to lose weight, gain weight, and increase muscles. Groups were best differentiated by family pressure to gain weight. Girls were more likely to receive the messages from multiple sociocultural sources whereas boys were more likely to receive the messages from the family. Some participants in a cultural group indicated higher, and others lower, levels of these sociocultural messages. These findings highlight the differences in sociocultural messages across cultural groups, but also that adolescents receive contrasting messages within a cultural group. These results demonstrate the difficulty in representing a particular message as being characteristic of each cultural group.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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